The portion of the Searles Estate at 209 Lawrence St., Methuen, that houses Sisters of the Presentation of Mary will close down, according to a statement from Provincial Assistant Sr. Janice Perrault.

The Sisters of the Presentation of Mary is an organization of Catholic nuns that founded Presentation of Mary Academy, a high school on the same property that draws students from throughout the region. The sisters still play a role in the school's operations as staff members such as teachers.

No one was available at the school to comment on what the change means to the academy. Perrault would also not elaborate.

The decision follows "a process of future planning" with the help of consultants from Plante Moran CRESA, a commercial real estate adviser, the statement says.

Perrault said there was no timeline in place, and that plans are being made to find new homes for the sisters. Research is continuing into possible future uses of the property, she said.

Besides housing for the sisters, the section of the property that will close also consists of a health care facility, administration offices for the religious community and a cemetery for the sisters.

The decision to close all of it was not sudden, according to the statement.

"The study over the past year has confirmed that the cost of maintaining the Sisters section of the campus in Methuen is financially unsustainable," the statement reads.

According to Perrault, there were several decades during which more than 100 sisters were living on the property, taking care of it and operating several ministries.

But over the years, the number of sisters has declined.

"Over the years, with the decline in the number of Sisters and their advancing age, the Sisters have had the privileged of wonderful, dedicated employees who worked with them in their ministries, cared for the retired Sisters and helped maintain the property," the statement read.

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